Popped Lock or Not…Landlord Not Liable (NY)

In Batista v. City of New York¸ the plaintiff testified that the lobby door leading to her apartment building could open with force and did not require the use of keys.  Nevertheless, the plaintiff testified that she used her keys on the day of the accident to enter the building.  She also observed two other tenants use their keys to enter the building.  After entering her building, two unknown assailants “popped” the door open, entered the lobby, and assaulted the plaintiff.

The First Department reversed the lower court’s decision and granted the Housing Authority’s motion for summary judgment.  The First Department held that the Housing Authority had inspected the door on the morning of the accident and found no defects with the lock.  The Court further held that the plaintiff failed to show that the Housing Authority had actual or constructive notice that the door/lock was broken between the morning hours and the time the accident occurred.  Finally, the Court noted that, once minimal security precautions against reasonably foreseeable criminal acts are in place—such as a working lock, liability can only be imposed if the landlord fails to timely repair any apparent defects.

Special thanks to Georgia Stagias for her contribution.

For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com.